Published on Sept. 13, 2020
Backing up our commitment to animal welfare with action
Animal welfare is priority focus area within Hendrix Genetics. It’s easy to make this statement, but more challenging to translate this statement into real, tangible actions. With facilities all over the world and as a growing multi-species company, it is vital that we follow consistent, global welfare policies. A long-term project was recently completed to apply measurable tactics to enhance welfare for the animals in our care.
The first step was to create clear communication on our expectations for the animals in our care. The animal welfare policy applies to all species and details company expectations for animal care and handling. It also describes a zero tolerance policy when it comes to welfare violations and the method of reporting any concerns internally. For example, within the turkey division, a “See something, Say something” campaign was created to encourage employees to speak up, in a confidential way, if they think there may be an animal welfare concern. We require all employees sign our animal welfare policy (available in eleven languages), whether they have direct contact with animals or not.
Standard operating procedures (SOP’s) were also created tailored to the characteristics of the animals and the specific regulations of the sector. These standards are applied consistently across the world and always exceed the SOP’s expected by local regulations.
Internal and external auditing is another important tool to ensure that the approved methods of animal handling and care are followed. These audits are conducted on a regular basis to evaluate compliance and to address any areas of concern.
Not only is it important to make sure that we have the right tools in place, but it is crucial to put in place clear guidelines and training for our employees. All employees must complete welfare training on procedures, including humane euthanasia, before starting work. In addition annual refresher training must be provided.
Welfare is also key component of our breeding goals for all species, meaning that the welfare of our animals is considered before they are even born. Animals are bred to be robust and healthy. For example, within the layer division, a well-established testing program is in place where we keep birds, under commercial circumstances, with intact beaks. We are also beginning to select from ‘friendly families’ – both measures designed to reduce the need for beak treatment in order to prevent feather pecking.
Animal health and wellbeing is at the core of our business, but we can’t just “talk the talk”, we must back up this sentiment with action. As our organization evolves, we will continue to enforce these welfare policies and procedures not only because of industry expectations, but because it is the right thing to do.